Professional basketball is back, hopefully bringing you good cheer this holiday season.

Corny seasonal opening lines aside, while we know some of the game's best players preferred a later start date to the 2020-21 NBA season, precisely zero fans are complaining about the imminent return of meaningful games during the most wonderful time of the year. 

Just as the conclusion of the 2019-20 season was unprecedented undertaking by the NBA, the 2020-21 season will be unlike any other in the Association's 75-year history. We're only getting a 72-game regular-season, fans will largely be forbidden from arenas for the foreseeable future, teams will embark on longer road trips than ever before, and we only know the schedule through the first week of March. That's how it has to go when we're still knee-deep in a pandemic. We should count our blessings the games will go on despite the crazy circumstances and the men and women associated with the NBA and its 30 teams deserve a special salute for putting their safety and well-being at risk for our entertainment.  

As we gear up for the opening night on December 22, there are a number of storylines that stand out. Of course, there are thousands of them spread across the league, but we're keeping it macro here. So we highlighted 12 you should absolutely know before the Nets and Warriors get the season going next week. If you somehow slacked on all the wheelings and dealings around free agency, the NBA Draft, and aren't up to date on the juiciest trade rumors still floating around, this primer should have you covered.